Graduate Liberal Studies Program

Course Description

GLS 592: Comedy and the Media in Contemporary Culture

Instructor: Steve Vernon

the mask of comedy

This course will attempt to examine comedy and humor in our society in the following ways (among others):

  • How comedy is related to tragedy and why the two are dependant on one another (with a consideration of post-9/11 humor)
  • How we as a culture use comedy to educate/inform/influence as well as entertain
  • Comedy as a reflection of religious, political and social elements of our society
  • Humor as a barometer of social climate
  • Humor as a tool for effecting change
  • Humor as a tool of hate/prejudice

Texts will include memoirs of comedians, humorous essays, plays, cartoons, works of fiction, parodies, satires, and dirty joke books.

The class will look at comedy in film, television, theatre, print, stand-up, improvisation and the visual arts. Students will write 2-3 shorter papers and a final paper on a larger scale. Students will have the opportunity to learn performance techniques and be given the chance to implement them, perhaps in front of an audience if the class so desires.

Required Texts:

Al Franken, Why Not Me?, (Dell ISBN#0385334540)

Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter (Witch), (Ace ISBN#0441003257)

Blanche Knott, Truly Tasteless Jokes, (Ballantine Books ISBN#0345329201)

Steve Martin, Pure Drivel, (Hyperion ISBN#078688505x)

Dennis Miller, Rants, (Broadway Books ISBN#038547802x)

Richard Pryor and Todd Gold, Pryor Convictions, (Knopf ISBN#037570048x)

Neil Simon, The Odd Couple, (Random House ISBN#0394406494)

Micah Ian Wright, You Back the Attack! We'll Bomb Who We Want, (Seven Stories ISBN#1583225846)

Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, ( ISBN#0316735655)

The Onion Ad Nauseum: Complete New Archives Vol. 13, (Crown ISBN#1400047242)

The final exam will, of course, consist of a pie fight.

Last Update: February 10, 2017